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Lawrie Ann Bertram

Obituary for Lawrie Ann Bertram

November 1, 1960 - November 2, 2018
Beverly, Massachusetts | Age 58




Lawrie Bertram: An Extraordinary Wife, Mother and Woman

A speech or piece of writing that praises someone or something highly, especially a tribute to someone who has just died.

'a eulogy to the Grammar Queen'


Late Middle English (in the sense 'high praise'): from medieval Latin eulogium, eulogia (from Greek eulogia 'praise'), apparently influenced by Latin elogium 'inscription on a tomb' (from Greek elegia 'elegy'). The current sense dates from the late 16th century.

Where do I begin?

Yes, with a list, as was Lawrie's daily method of managing all of the "To Do Today" items. So a list I made and, it was long, very long. I began to write, remember, laugh, cry, (as I am doing at this moment) and the writing went on and on and on. I can hear Lawrie saying now "that is a run on sentence, you have parallel structure problems, why are you so verbose, get up and let me fix it for you." And I think, no one can fix this for me, for Rebecca or for any of us, those that loved her, those that were affected (yes, the verb) by her presence, her spirit, her love of so many things.

Lawrie's capacity for love, joy and life was large. She demonstrated that love when she accepted my marriage proposal at her hospital bedside as she was being prepped for emergency surgery. She actually made me propose again, claiming that we had not shook hands on it and, that she may have been under the influence of anesthesia. And, so continued a wonderful life, with the promise of many years to come, committed to each other, living life with purpose.

Lawrie was the most loyal wife and life partner I could ask for. She would defend me or Rebecca as would a lioness her cubs. She loved our daughter, Rebecca, in a way that was much deeper than her role as step mother, and Rebecca loved her deeply. When they first met, we were out to dinner and Rebecca said to Lawrie, "You are pretty; can I sit next to you?" From that moment on, Lawrie continually influenced and shaped Rebecca's life. Lawrie played flute, Rebecca played flute, Lawrie ironed her clothes each morning, and Rebecca wanted her clothes ironed. Lawrie had a stylish eye for clothing and Rebecca wanted to dress just as smartly. Lawrie was a great cook. Rebecca learned to cook and now has the same passion for great food. Lawrie often said Rebecca knows more about cooking at 16 than Lawrie knew before she was 35. Lawrie was a consummate entertainer, Rebecca learned to entertain her friends, and how to be a gracious hostess, and attend to guests needs. Rebecca learned to set a formal dinner table, the importance of linen napkins, or how to decorate for an event. Lawrie was a mother in every sense of the word. Together, Lawrie and I helped shape Rebecca's future, with a natural focus on her studies and education, but just as importantly creating a warm and welcoming home for Rebecca and her friends. Lawrie knew the importance of friends and she wanted our home to be the place Rebecca would invite friends for parties, sleep overs, formal dinners in the dining room, and more. And our house was a home, the type of home you could feel warm the instant you walked in. It was lived in, laughed in and cried in, much more in this past week. Our home missed Lawrie in ways that are unimaginable because there is no replacement, or as Lawrie may say, many times in life there is no "do over" so do it right the first time. Lawrie did so many things right the first time. For the love, support, adoration, guidance, lesson and so much more Lawrie offered Rebecca, I could be no more grateful. Rebecca is a reflection of many of Lawrie's wonderful traits.

Our home was the center of entertainment for family and friends alike. Many of you have attended the countless Christmas Eve Open House events, where hundreds would gather over the years to tell stories, laugh, eat and drink. Many of our friends have enjoyed the patio, barbecues, and events in the great room circling the huge island or intimate or simply fun dinners in the dining room. Lawrie loved our home; I loved our home with Lawrie. Every room in the house has been hand stenciled by Lawrie, always with an eye and commitment to historic colors and authentic historic stencil patterns. We loved our home in Nova Scotia, lovingly bringing running water and modern plumbing and rehabbing it to be another wonderful space to share joy, meals and create more memories. We share it with family and great friends including Ann and Duncan McIntyre. Ann and Lawrie cried before they got together and cried every time they would depart each other.

As we are all sitting in St. Mary Star of the Sea this morning, I want you to know the importance of this place, and Lawrie's Catholic Faith. Lawrie and I attended church together since we met. Initially, we were married in our back yard. Many of you attended. It was a wonderful event. My family came, Lawrie's brothers came from Nova Scotia, walked her down our "aisle" while Donnie Ritchie led the way playing bagpipes and our nieces and nephews were present and many friends attended. As time went by we decided to be married again, in the Catholic Church. When Lawrie asked Ann McIntyre to be Maid of Honor again, she said yes, but it would be the last time. Lawrie's faith was deep. She led Rebecca's religious education classes, Confirmation Classes and Rebecca asked Lawrie to be her Holy Confirmation sponsor. Lawrie deepened her connection by becoming a Eucharistic Minister and then becoming a Lector. We enjoyed listening to Lawrie read and watching her pride in service to God. Lawrie read prayers every day. If she knew you were troubled, sick or experiencing loss, she would stop by the church and pray for you and light a candle. Lawrie lived her faith. We all have a guardian angel now.

Lawrie loved music. She imparted her love to Rebecca. Lawrie watched as Rebecca became more talented with her constant practice. I enjoyed watching Lawrie beam with pride as Rebecca played in the BHS Marching Band, Concert Band, Pit Band (her favorite) and recitals. As many of you know, Lawrie played bagpipes in the 80's. She also played flute with the North Shore Symphony. Lawrie said often, out of earshot of Rebecca, that Rebecca was more talented than she was at Rebecca's age. As always, Rebecca will remember Lawrie asking if she practiced that day. I loved to see them play duets. I loved to watch Lawrie perform. Lawrie also enjoyed her LOCA group with Eileen Yarrisson, a lifelong friend and Rebecca's flute teacher. Lawrie was so graceful and talented and always dressed to the nines for performances.

Reading was a passion of Lawrie's. At her passing, she was reading five books at the same time. She kept a running log of the titles, which numbered thousands. As you may notice in the photos, she was often seen with a book in her hand. She once introduced herself to her AP students with a photograph of her seated in a chair, on the beach, with a stack of books and exclaimed that she was getting a jump on her summer reading and hoped her students were doing the same. She re-read every book every time she taught it. Lawrie loved analyzing literature. We have four libraries in our home and every book has been read, oh, and alphabetized as well. Some of you shared her passion and enjoyed many conversations whether in a book club or one on one or in the classroom.

Yes, many of us have experienced the intellect of Ms. Bertram, the champion of grammar rules, quick to identify the absence of "ly" in a word that should have been an adverb. "Slowly, not slow" she may comment in correction. And, if you did not know, slow has many uses including adjective, verb or adverb, slowly. But, it was Lawrie's love of language, both written and spoken, that was the basis of these corrections, albeit she was a consistent stickler in her efforts to assist us all in ceasing to butcher our language. And, her love did not stop at the etymology; feel free to read "The Professor and the Madman" a tale of the making of the Oxford English Dictionary. Lawrie also saw the beauty in the written word, hence her absolute passion for cursive handwriting. She loved the elegance, grace and class that cursive demonstrated. She also taught us that cursive was faster than printing and her students could simply write faster. For me, her husband Dean, her love of language was evident every day. I miss being corrected, or having Lawrie edit my often times atrocious butchery of the language she so loved. Her language excellence did not stop with English. She also earned a Masters in Celtic studies and she read, wrote and spoke the languages to earn the degree. She was the inaugural class to graduate St. Francis Xavier University with the degree. She wore her X Ring with great pride.

If you knew Lawrie at all, you knew her passion for teaching. You could not escape a story or anecdote or cerebral conversation about her day or her career. As a teacher myself, I aspired to be the educator she was. We discussed educational topics at breakfast, lunch, dinner, into the evenings, on the weekends and in the summers. Many people around us may have been tired of our never ending discussion of where education was going or how student populations have changed, or the changing culture or attitude toward education, but the passion was evident. She knew the job was difficult, challenging and fraught with resistant learners. But, she still believed that every student was a diamond, or in the alternative, a diamond in the rough. Many students have endured Ms. Bertram's seemingly endless willpower to pull them through the keyhole of learning. She would never give up on a student, even telling guidance counselors not to let a student drop her class because she believed in them and felt that when given time, she would reach them and in the end transform the young man or lady. She treated every student with respect and saw the good in them. She always said "The path to adulthood is paved with opportunity."

Current students and graduates from as far back as 2003 attended her services. I met students form 03, 04, 05, 06 , 07, 09, 10, 11, 2, 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18 and many of her current students. The commonly expressed sentiment was that Ms. Bertram genuinely cared, listened, assisted and held them to very high standards. Graduates stated they were in Doctoral studies in English because of the passion Ms. Bertram ignited within them. Students stated they would not be the adult they are today if not for her. And, students that never had Ms. Bertram as a teacher, attended to say that she would sit with them after school and assist them with concerns or troubles in their lives and how much that meant to them, and in some cases those conversations and advice actually saving them. And yet others attended as friends in support of her students. Parents and students attended as well. Many students stated they would not have attended college if were not for the support and belief in them that Ms. Bertram expressed. Image someone from your fifteen-year year past coming forward to express the significant impact you had on them that changed their lives. Ms. Bertram was an extraordinary educator and mentor to her students and all students. The education community has lost one of its greatest teachers.

Many of you have seen various other sides to Lawrie Bertram. Saving animals was another passion. She traveled to Kanab, Utah to spend a week at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary to donate her time to the largest no-kill shelter in the country. She raised money for the North Shore Animal Shelter. She collected blankets and sheets to deliver to the shelter, and she would simply go and visit the animals, especially the cats. She always sought out the adopt-a-pet ad in the paper and would say, so and so needs a new home in her never ending attempt to save them all.

Lawrie share the grace of the feline species. We would see that as she danced at our wedding, or as Lawrie and I danced in the night, alone in our home, after pushing the furniture to the perimeter of the great room, or at the Jubilee Yacht Club at one of the many functions. And, she loved to be twirled and danced around the floor. But make no mistake about it; she was always trying to lead. While I danced with her or watched her dance I could feel, in my soul, her free spirit filling my arms, the room around us, and can still hear her laughter and see her smile.

Food and entertaining were additional passions of Lawrie's. We shared our kitchen to prepare countless meals. We believed in having dinner with the family, every night that was possible. Working together, we would entertain for small dinner parties or much larger events. They ranged from holidays to birthdays to our favorite, impromptu invitations. We have had countless parties at our home, with dozens or even hundreds of family members and wonderful friends both old and new, surrounding our island or enjoying many rooms on our 1808 colonial home. Lawrie could whip up something elegant in a flash, or plan a delectable dinner for six in our dining room with a beautiful fire roaring in the Rumford fireplace.

Our home, yes the one with the candles in each window that burn every night, was a true passion of Lawrie's. We have spent many years working on it together. It was a house I drove by for years before Lawrie and I met and always wondered what the inside looked like. We love our home; it is filled with memories of family holidays, laughter, cats running about and possibly a ghost or two, very friendly though. We kept to tradition. We honeymooned in Colonial Williamsburg to research house colors before selecting the current one. What a couple of nerds we could be. Lawrie always dreamed of living in the colonial era.

The Jubilee Yacht Club was a large part of our life. A few years ago, Lawrie said, "Let's buy a boat." And, we did. She enjoyed every trip whether it were the three of us, with friends, Dee and Bill, Brillo and Deb, Bill and Becky, "The Fun One", Christine or Heidi or with Rebecca's friends. Of course, the food had be plated and presented and specially prepared, which is a feat on a boat, but Lawrie always pulled it off with elegance and class. We loved rafting up with friend's boats and spending the days and evenings on the water. Lawrie loved reading (of course) on the boat. We made many great friendships with club members and enjoyed thousands of laughs in the lounge with numerous nights ending with Uncle Jimmy and us being the last to leave because we were having so much fun.

Digby, Tilly, Saucy and Ruby are wandering around the house finding other laps to sit upon. If you ever have one in your lap, you have been truly accepted into Lawrie's world of animals. Saucy, particularly had an uncanny ability to sense Lawrie at the moment she was sitting down and would jump on her within seconds. Many times Lawrie would be correcting tests or essays with a cat or two or three vying to be on her lap.

Riding motorcycles with Lawrie was always a treat, whether we were dressed in Halloween garb in the Salem Halloween ride or just tooling around the north shore or all over Nova Scotia. Rebecca loved to ride with us. We had so much fun picking out her leather jacket and helmet. We were a family of three freewheeling down unknown roads on our way to adventures. We had traditions. The first ride of the season was to Salem Willows for a chop suey sandwich and Father's Day we rode to Essex Seafood. She loved to ride in the fall.

I feel as though I could write for a very long time in remembrance of all Lawrie Bertram was to me, our daughter, our friends, our families, her students, her contemporaries at PVMHS and I would still fall short of truly exemplifying who Lawrie was and is as she remains in our hearts and minds. To each of us, she was special and in those multitudes of special moments, she is best remembered.

I love Lawrie, Rebecca loves Lawrie, you love Lawrie and she loves us all back. I am sure Lawrie is running in Heaven with her pets and parents and relatives and friends awaiting our arrival to enjoy more great laughs and to see once again, that smile like no other.

Enjoy the heaven you deserve, my love.
Your Loving Husband Dean and Loving Daughter Rebecca.

P.S. If there are any grammatical errors, it is because Lawrie was not here to proofread my writing. And, if for some reason we are late to the church, it will be my fault. Lawrie was a stickler for punctuality.


When someone you love passes, it is only natural to spend a lot of time reflecting. You reflect on your love for them, who they were as a person, your favorite things about them, your favorite memories together, the last time you saw them or spoke to them and your want for just one more day or conversation with them.
My brothers and I wanted to share with you some of our reflections on who she was, some of our favorite and fondest memories, and how we want to remember her. Reflecting on our aunt and her life over the past several days has been emotional to say the least. But it has also led to the resurfacing of some great memories, moments in time where you can still hear her laugh or giggle, see her rolling her eyes, or sitting around a room full of her family where it always seemed she was most at peace.

I remember the summer my brothers and I spent in Beverly as small children. It seemed like an endless summer where it never rained, Grampy Bob's garden was in full swing, trains and all, and we would frequently run in and out of her apartment. I can still hear her yelling "stop slamming the door". We spent countless nights at Salem Willows back when we were small enough that it felt like a bonofide amusement park and there was an endless supply of salt water taffy. I can still see her face as she sat so proudly at my first flute recital. I loved when she would tell me stories about my grandmother, a woman we never had the opportunity to meet.
Ethan's favorite memories are when she would come and pick him up at the end of every school year to go out and celebrate grading. She felt it represented moving forward in life. She shared this with Ethan because that is what Grampy Bob had done with her. And every year she would tell the same story about how much she enjoyed that time with her father and how she enjoyed sharing that time with him in celebration.

Ben describes Aunt Lawrie as someone who gave her all in every task she chose to take on. Whether it was the flute, bagpipes, her students, house, or simply the weekly crossword puzzle in the paper. She gave it her all. What she truly excelled at above all else was bringing people together. Orchestrating a great party was always something she took great pride in. At Christmas her apartment would be turned into a giant service kitchen. Full of every food imaginable all prepared by her, and her "volunteers". All of us setting up platter after platter to feed the never-ending stream of people that would pour in as the evening went on. She knew what had to happen as if it was all written out in a novel or screen play. All she had to do was orchestrate it. She made sure to invite all the characters. Socialites, teachers, former students, artists, story tellers, comedians, travelers, and even a few degenerates. A part played by any one of us in any given year. All of which inevitably tried to cram into a 12x6 kitchen, despite the large house to move around in, just to be closer to the beer (and of course the never-ending joke telling that always accompanied it). Many close relationships started out of these gatherings and unfortunately some ended there as well. But no matter what happened, Aunt Lawrie made sure the show went on.

Every summer we would get ready for her arrival waiting on the steps of my grandfather's summer home, which was always her first stop. When my Grampy Bob was alive, his arrival to Nova Scotia marked the beginning of summer. After his passing it was Aunt Lawrie's arrival that began to mark the beginning of summer. Summers that had their share of late nights, kitchen parties, family dinners, bonfires, days spent at the lake, morning coffee or tea together with friends, countless hours spent in the blueberry fields, and you could always count on her worrying continuously about the well going dry.

Aunt Lawrie was a woman of many talents, and who was well known for certain traits. Anyone who has ever met Lawrie knows how she feels about correct grammar, manners and above all etiquette. I hope I am not the only one she has ever corrected on any of these matters. But she was so much more then that. She was the protector of the family, the gatekeeper, the one who ensured that we all stuck together.

She was a woman of deep Catholic faith. This was a huge part of her life and she devoted a lot of her time to being a Lector, Holy Eucharist Minister, and Religious Education Teacher.

She was of course a teacher. A profession she loved and was proud to be a part of. A passion her and Dean shared, something she also shared with her father. When asked "what do you teach?" She would reply "I teach kids". "But what do you teach them?". She would respond "I teach them to think". A sentiment passed on to her by our grandfather. But she loved her students and sharing her passion with them. Almost every time we spoke or got together, she always had a funny story or a success story of one of her students, always speaking highly of them.

She was a great friend, and a best friend to a lucky few. She has had many friendships that have more then stood the test of time. She always knew that exact right moment to reach out to someone in their time of need and what the right thing to say was. I don't think she has ever missed someone's birthday. She always went out of her way to send a card, pick up the phone, or pick out a meaningful gift to ensure they were celebrated.

She was also a bit of a rebel, even without including her love of riding her motorcycle. I am sure her friends could share more stories then we ever could.
You could always count on her to speak her mind whether you were ready to hear it or not. Ben had said this week there are more times than he can count that she was the deliverer of much needed harsh truths. He didn't always want to hear what she had to say but as we all know nothing would stop her from putting her two cents in. She seemed to have a never-ending supply of pennies and he was often in need of them. Those pennies add up and we are saddened to think that we will never have the opportunity to repay her for the wealth that she has bestowed upon us.

To us, she was our aunt. Our father's sister. Our grandfather's daughter. But to many here today she was a wife, step-mother, godmother, sister, best friend, teacher, confidant, band mate, neighbor, and animal lover (especially to all of her cats),
She was strong willed, quick witted, and fierce. She was smart, passionate, beautiful, and had a smile that could light up a room. She had a laugh that was infectious. She was talented and successful in so many different ways. She loved her family and so many other people in her life, although I may argue that she loved her cats more then any of us.

Our aunt was so many things to so many people. And because of that we could not be more thankful. Because she was loved by so many means that her spirit will not dim. We can all carry on her stories and the memories we have of her. When you think of her, share those memories and moments in time with others. Smile and give thanks that you have had the opportunity to know her. And have no fear, for I can say with a lot of certainty that she will likely take up residence in her home in Nova Scotia alongside the other spirits that currently reside there. This will likely be the place in the coming years that I will feel her presence the most.

In speaking directly to our Aunt: We choose not to feel sorry about your passing for we have had the chance to know you. We feel sorry for those who never had the opportunity to know you. You were a personality that is rarely found in this world and you will be truly missed. We hope you know how much you are loved.


BEVERLY - Lawrie A. Bertram was an educator of principled discipline and old-world values. Yes, she still believed that teaching the timeless practiced art of cursive writing set her students apart, affording them the opportunity to distinguish themselves. She held very high standards and challenged students to excel in their studies and learn to master analytical skills and apply them to literature.

This high school English teacher was awarded the Teacher in Excellence for her tireless work leading Advanced Placement students to outstanding AP exam scores. Over her nearly 19 year career, she wrote hundreds of college recommendations, mentored students through college essay writing and spent thousands of hours preparing to teach students of all abilities. And, those hours ran deep into the school nights and long into her weekends and summers. Her dedication to Peabody Veterans Memorial High School's learning community included students, parents, colleagues and community members at large. She served as National Honor Society Advisor for seven years, as officer in the Peabody Federation of Teachers' Union and sat on countless professional committees.

Lawrie Bertram demonstrated her deep Catholic faith while serving as a Lector, Holy Eucharist Minister, and Religious Education Teacher for Saint Mary Star of the Sea Parish.

Ms. Bertram, 58, was born on All Saints' Day and died on All Souls' Day, Friday, November 2, at her home in Beverly, MA.

"What do you teach?" she was often asked. "I teach kids," was her customary response. "But what do you teach them?" "I teach them to think," said Ms. Bertram, according to her husband, Dean. Truth be told, she taught English. "It was her passion and she was the grammar queen," said her husband. Her astute students would recognize the symbolism of the rain falling in the morning of her passing as re-birth or renewal and the significance of date as All Soul's Day.

Ms. Bertram was born in Salem, Massachusetts, grew up in Beverly and graduated Beverly High School in 1978. She attended UMASS, graduating in 1982 with a Bachelor of Arts while majoring in Anthropology. Her love of education did not end in Amherst. She attended St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia where she earned two additional degrees. In 1987, Ms. Bertram earned her Bachelor in Education and continued on to her Masters of Art in Celtic studies.
Ms. Bertram played flute in the Beverly High School Marching band, concert band and in the University of Massachusetts Marching Band. She also played bagpipes in Sudbury, with the Staurt Highlanders and eventually joined the Worcester Kilities Band traveling to compete and perform.

Many may recognize the home she and husband Dean lovingly spent time restoring and landscaping at 141 Lothrop Street. It is the large gold house with the Christmas candles on every night of the year. Her window boxes were always beautiful as were the wreaths on every window during holiday seasons. Many a neighbor and passersby would complement her efforts to keep the home beautiful. It was not uncommon to see people photographing the home from cars or sidewalk and many times people asked if there was any vacancy at the bed and breakfast, although the home was not one.

Fashion was a staple in Ms. Bertram's outfits. Many times, over the years students would inquire if Ms. Bertram had worn the same outfit twice within a school year. The answer was the same each time, "No, I do not believe so, thank you for noticing."

Ms. Bertram was also known for her sense of fun, often seen riding her purple motorcycle with leather braided handle grips, boating in the local harbors, spending time at the Jubliee Yacht Club, performing with her LOCA flute group (Ladies of a Certain Age) or in Nova Scotia spending her summers in the middle of high bush blueberries. When asked, her bright yellow house on the bay was her happy place.

Lawrie leaves behind her loving husband Dean Martino, her beloved step-daughter Rebecca, siblings John Scott and John Douglas Bertram of Gilbert's Cove, Nova Scotia. In-laws Jim, Audrey, John, Diane, and Kate Martino. She was Aunt to John Benjamin, John Ethan and Andrea, Breeana, Madeleine, Johnny, Natasha, and Kane.

Ms. Bertram also leaves behind her beloved cats, Digby, Ruby, Tilly, and Saucy. She had dogs and cats most of her life. She loved to rescue animals. If she could she would rescue them all. She dreamed of retiring and donating her time to shelters and the care of homeless animals.

ARRANGEMENTS: Her funeral will be held from the Peterson-O'Donnell Funeral Home, 167 Maple St., (rte 62) Danvers, Monday, Nov. 12th, at 10 A.M. followed by her funeral Mass in St. Mary Star of the Sea Church, Cabot St., Beverly, at 11 A.M. Relatives and friends invited. Burial will be in Nova Scotia, Canada at her family burial grounds. Visiting hours are Sunday, Nov. 11th from 4 to 7 p.m. Donations, in Lawrie Bertram's memory, may be made to The Northeast Animal Shelter, 347 Highland Ave., Salem, MA 01970 or to the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary 5001 Angel Canyon Rd., Kanab, UT. 8474. To share a memory or offer a condolence, please visit

Suggested Memorial Donations

  • Donations, in Lawrie Bertram's memory, may be made to The Northeast Animal Shelter, 347 Highland Ave., Salem, MA 01970 or to the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary 5001 Angel Canyon Rd., Kanab, UT. 8474.

Message from the Family

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Arrangements By

Peterson-O'Donnell Funeral Home

Peterson-O'Donnell Funeral Home
167 Maple Street, Danvers, MA 01923
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